マシンガン抱いた少女 (the_plate) wrote,

The review that wouldn't die. PART ONE

Let me start from the end. To steal a joke from Dane Cook (yes, I'm stooping to that level), let's Tarantino this shit.

The end result of a two-year argument

Now let me go back to the beginning. The very beginning. Of time, in fact. No wait, too far back. Let's go to the time when the word "review" came into existence in the English language. I'm going to venture a guess and say it originates from the Latin "listen to an album and give your honest yet fair opinion on it". Do we all understand what "review" means now? Great. Let's skip ahead.

So in June 2009, a bunch of us at purple SKY received an email from our producer, Kathy. She wanted to know if anyone would like to do a review or phone interview with Tadahisa Yoshida, an LA-based independent musician.


Subject: Tadahisa</span> Yoshida - Artist Review Submission
From:    [redacted email address] </a>
Date:    Tue, June 2, 2009 11:22 pm
To:      info@purpleskymagazine.com

It is with great pleasure that I present Tadahisa Yoshida for your
consideration as a subject for an Artist Interview and CD Review.

Tadahisa began his musical career in Japan as a solo artist and with the
band Crisis. Since his arrival in Los Angeles, California, he has released
two self-produced CD’s, established the band Teleman and has developed
quite a following throughout the United States and Europe as a solo

Tadahisa (and band) recently played with Cinema Bizzare at The Knitting
Factory in Los Angeles and will appear with The Killing Red Addiction
(Taiji Sawada's band) on June 22 at The Whiskey a Go-Go, also in Los
Angeles.  In addition, he will be appearing (as a solo artist) all three
days of the San Japan Anime Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

For your convienience, I have attached Tadahisa's "e-kit" along with a
listing of his interviews, convention and club appearances and
miscellaneous professional associations and performances.  On behalf of
Tadahisa, I would like to invite you to take a listen to his music and we
would be pleased to submit, either by file transfer or physical media, a
copy of his latest CD, Electric Defect for your review.  For a sampling
of his music, please visit:

Tadahisa Yoshida MySpace: www. myspace. com/tadahisayoshida
Tadahisa Yoshida Official Website: www. tadahisayoshida. com

For further information and/or to have a copy of his CD forwarded, please
respond with request to this email or directly to [redacted]</a>.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
D [name redacted]
General Staff Assistant</span></span>


The important things to note here are 1) he is listed as a solo artist, 2) the name of his CD is Electric Defect, and 3) D sent this to purple SKY with the intention having one of us review the CD.

No one else was biting, so I said that I would do a review of the CD. Kathy then gave D my email address.


First of all, my apologies for the late reply.  It has been very hectic the last few weeks around here.
Hopefully, your publisher Kathy Chee forwarded my original inquiry to you.  I contacted Purple Sky on behalf of Tadahisa Yoshida regarding an interview and possible music review.  Tadahisa has asked me to inquire about the format of the interview, and whether it would be an artist supplied information sheet or if you had a standard set of questions.
Tadahisa has some very exciting news to share regarding his upcoming performance, opening for Taiji Sawada's "new" band, The Killing Red Addiction on June 22nd, so we would need to move fairly quickly if you agree that this would make a good focus of the interview.  Of course, we are always open to your feedback on how you would like to structure the article.
Rather than bombard you with press e-kits, promo shots, etc, please reply and let me know what I can provide you, and in what format.  Meantime, if you would like to check out Tadahisa's music, please visit his MySpace page at:  www.myspace.com/tadahisayoshida
Have a great weekend,
General Staff Assistant


My reply:

Hi, D.

Thanks for getting back to me. We were actually planning on doing a review of Yoshida's latest album rather than an interview, considering we don't have anyone locally who can do it in person and we tend to shy away from email/phone interviews. 

If you could send the album electronically to Kathy Chee (kathy@purpleskymagazine.come) or me, that would be great. I'm very excited to be reviewing this album if the samples on myspace are any indication of his music.  

Thanks a lot for your assistance and I look forward to your reply.


Sarah Dworken
purple SKY magazine
Staff Writer


Everything seemed pretty normal at this point. Yoshida is really minor without so much as a blip on the radar screen outside of LA, so I was taking my sweet time with this one. Plus, looking at the date I sent that email, I must have been emailing D from my hotel room in Tokyo since I had JUST arrived. I hadn't even moved into my apartment yet. So I downloaded the album when D sent the link to Kathy in July.


> Per Sarah's request below, please follow this link to retreive Tadahisa
> Yoshida's Electric Defect CD. 
> [redacted link]  
> This is his second and most recent CD release.  Please let me know if we
> can send you additional information.
> Tadahisa asked if it would be possible to see your review in it's final
> draft prior to publishing (if possible).
> Thanks in advance for your interest!
> D
> General Staff Assistant


This was the first indication that it was fishy. Kathy replied saying that we do not send reviews to be edited by artists or management. The only reason we would edit a review is for some factual error, not because the artist doesn't like how it sounds. That's just not how reviews work. It completely defeats the purpose of writing one, and more importantly would show to everyone that I'm a sell-out. No one would trust a review from me ever again.

So skip ahead about a month. I finally wrote the review. Yeah, I took my sweet time, and normally I don't take that long, but to be honest, I didn't care. Like I said, Yoshida isn't a big artist. But more than anything, the album was pretty bad. Listening to it, I had almost no desire to write anything on it because, when it really comes down to it, I don't LIKE writing bad reviews. I would never tell anyone to their face that I think their music is amateurish and weak. If someone asked me for constructive criticism, I'd certainly give it without any qualms. In a sense, reviews are supposed to be just that: What is it that the artist should watch out for? What should they do next time? If a chef reads a review of his food as being too salty, maybe try less salt. The same thing goes for a musician. Yeah, I get that it's a sensitive subject for anyone, and god knows I don't take criticism too well, but I hardly expected the reaction that came from Yoshida's camp.

After asking for cover art from D, Kathy put the interview up. Here is the original text:


Hey, let’s go to a club. Get all dolled up, wear our shortest skirts, keep a can of pepper spray in our purses, and dance whorishly to tortured, electronic rock. Oh, and the girls can come too.

Los Angeles-based Tadahisa Yoshida attempts to appeal to the semi-dead club/dance genre of electronic rock, while at the same time banks on the “J-rock” factor tied to his Japanese roots with his new album Electric Defect. The singer/guitarist is supported by bassist Chryst, drummer Indy, and keyboarder/programmer bongbong the fantastic. Much praise has been sung over the last year or two of the fledgling artist, though not much seems to be said about his music in particular.

Singing in a combination of Japanese and English, this heavily synthesized album may be a bit confusing. On one hand, the beat-heavy tunes such as “GD” could easily fit with the other club music put to the drunken choreography of sorority girls dancing on tables. On the other hand, Yoshida seems to market himself as a tortured visual kei soul, as evidenced on his MySpace. The music and the image don’t quite mesh.

But let’s not judge a book by its cover. The production quality of the music is clear enough to hear some of the musicianship behind it. This is a plus considering the overall do-it-yourself nature of Yoshida and his support band. With a concise, ethereal musical vision in songs like “Fire Rabbit,” Yoshida displays his knack for mood. He certainly mastered the ambiance of some of his inspirations. Perhaps he can live up to the hype in the overseas J-rock fanbase.

However, much of the actual music is muddled by the overzealous synthesizers. Granted, he claims that his music is “electronic,” but there is a fine line between pushing a button on a computer and being an artist. For someone who claims to be a guitarist, there is little actual guitar sound above the programming mess. This also affects the vocals, which are warped and hazy, though thankfully never venture into auto-tune territory.

Once the clean vocals come out with borderline pop-rock “Cyber Level,” one might wish he did use auto-tune. While the quality of his voice is passable at low range, it wavers once he reaches the midrange. He trades in much of the strength he has at baritone level for the shallowness of his nasally tenor voice. This is something that requires training and experience above anything else, though it would have been wise to avoid this melody this time around.

So is Tadahisa Yoshida and his album Electric Defect truly electronic rock? Visual kei? Electric defect in the literal sense of the title? There’s nothing I can say that will scare away the teeny boppers from his tortured look and local visual kei appeal, so I will leave with this. In a dark club with profane stickers tattooing the walls, Yoshida’s latest album would pass without great fanfare, but with enough people pumping their manicured fists and jumping around in their uncomfortable high heels to put a smile on any artist’s face.


And this was D's response:



Thank you for taking the time to review Tadahisa's CD. We are sorry to hear that you did not enjoy it.

As I'm sure you can understand the detriment of such a harsh review on a up and coming young artist, we respectfully request the review be posted for the most minimal time possible. We do understand that you maintain an archive of reviews and we again respectfully request the article not be stored for future reference.

I hope that you understand the reasonning behind this request and any actions taken in accomodation of this request is appreciated.

Thank You,
General Staff Assistant


What? Not to sound cold, but what do I care? I don't work for her or Yoshida. But more importantly, my review wasn't that scathing. Actually, I wouldn't use the word "scathing" at all. I'd say my review was "harsh, but fair". I said there are some things that he's doing well, but it's all too busy. What I really wanted to say was that it seemed like he was using his Japanese-ness to capitalize on the niche visual kei scene in LA. His whole Myspace and press kit felt like that.

Another thing that irked me were the half a dozen reviews I came across later saying Yoshida was basically the new face of music. I didn't get it until the rumor mill brought me information on how he buddy-buddy ups with people at other Jrock sites. But there's one thing you can't sell me on. Even if I had met Yoshida, I wouldn't let that stop me from telling it like it is.

So I replied to D with...


Dear D,
Thank you for taking the time to read my humble review.
I understand the plight of the up-and-coming musician. My review is one of several in English out there. If you and Tadahisa Yoshida are confident in his music, then I suspect he will go places. Do not let certain reviews deter him. As they say, no publicity is bad publicity.
That being said, we will not be taking the review down.
I wish you and Yoshida the best of luck in the future.
Sarah Dworken
purple SKY magazine
Staff Writer 


It was left at that for about two years. I didn't get a reply, the review got no comments on the actual post, I deleted his music from my computer, and that was that. At least I thought. Skip ahead to last weekend...

IN PART 2. This post is too long.
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